I’ve been painting ever since I was little, but somehow, watercolors never remained in my rotation for very long. It’s a shame because watercolor techniques can produce beautiful painterly effects, and some of my favorite artists these days work in the medium. Luckily, this watercolor tutorial from Michelle requires no previous experience; it uses simple household materials like coffee and salt to create cool visual effects in the application of the paint. Not only are you learning how to make an original piece of art, but you can also use Michelle’s technique to give maps, prints and paper of all kinds an unusual, antique look. Thanks for sharing, Michelle! — Kate
Read the full how-to after the jump!
- freshly brewed espresso
- cobalt blue watercolour paint
- 140wt coldpress watercolour paper
- watercolour brushes (one wide for washes & one thin for strokes)
- white drafting eraser
- sea salt
- masking tape
- brown ink pen
- tracing paper (optional)
1. Make yourself two Americanos — shouldn’t every project begin this way?! One for you, and one for the project. Alternatively, strong brewed coffee or even tea will work.
2. While one espresso cools, assemble the rest of your materials: a small cup of water and a pinch or two of salt. Rule out your paper to 8″ by 10″ and tape the edges with art tape (or low-tack blue painter’s tape).
3. Begin painting a region of the paper using the espresso. Alternate with brush strokes of pure water. It’s okay to have small areas of puddling because when you add the salt, it will absorb some of the liquid, but don’t go overboard. See below for an example:
4. While the region is still damp, gently sprinkle on salt crystals.
5. Continue until the entire paper is covered.
6. Let dry for several hours to overnight. The salt crystals will absorb the liquid around them, creating variations in the color on the paper and giving the piece an antique-map feel. This is also a great technique for aging any kind of print or pre-made map.
7. Use Google Earth to find your favourite place on earth! Sketch lightly on your paper free-handed (or if desired, print out, trace and transfer to your paper). Don’t worry about the pencil — a good white eraser will pull up any stray pencil marks!
8. Fill in oceans with blue watercolour.
9. Hand-letter your favourite travel quote underneath.